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Topic Five: To what extent did the role of women change in A

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Kate Lahr

on 4 January 2014

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Transcript of Topic Five: To what extent did the role of women change in A

Topic Five: To what extent did the role of women change in American Society between 1790 and 1860 in reference to three of the following four areas: domestic, economic, political, and social.
Thesis: As the years progressed from 1790 to 1860 woman’s roles in the economic and social aspect of society burgeoned while their roles in politics remained meager.
1820-1870: Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a shift from small shops and hand made goods to large-scale production factories and mills. The Industrial Revolution brought along many new inventions such as: the spinning jenny, the spinning mule, an automatic sewing machine, and the water frame. All of these inventions aided in the production of fibers used in the textile industry. These inventions replaced the work of farm women and girls, who spun yarn and wove cloth for a living, as they enabled factories to dramatically decrease production time. The factories that displaced these farm women offered employment to them, to work the new machines. Also during this time, men began performing more specialized jobs leaving thousands of positions amongst the factories open in which the young women were able to fill. Factory jobs led to greater economic independence for women and allowed them to become more involved in the economy.
1820-1840: Market Revolution
The Market Revolution was a shift from regional markets to national markets which strengthened the economy. Large scale domestic manufacturing became more apparent thus increasing the need for wage labor. This increase in the need for labor allowed women to start to work in these open positions. A family used to be able to sustain itself along with the help of a few neighbors by producing the necessary needs themselves and by selling what they did not need. When the Market Revolution came along store bought items replaced homemade products therefore the work of housewives was devalued. Households could no longer function without supplies made from far-off factories. Due to the fact that the job of a housewife became useless women had to venture out to find another way to raise money in order to bolster her family. The Market Revolution allowed women to find new occupations rather than be restricted in a home as a housewife.
1830's-1850's: Lower Mill Girls
The majority of working women were single, young girls. Women would work and earn wages to sustain themselves and once married would become wives and mothers. The lower mill girls worked from dark to dark and could not form unions but they were able to attend church. They worked in harsh conditions six days a week and were constantly monitored. In 1833 fifteen thousand mill girls stopped working and walked out of the Lowell factory to protest wage reduction. They were unsuccessful but it was the first strike by women. Due to the grim conditions they worked in the women began to stand up for themselves and began to protest about the wages they earned. They believed they deserved more money and/or better conditions. Women began showing desire to earn more money for their work therefore impacting the economy.
1844: The Female Labor Reform Association
Women workers at the Lowell Mill formed the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association in hopes to receive higher pay and shorter work days. This was one of the first labor organizations for women in the United States. The formation of this organization showed that women were no longer settling for the minimal pay and harsh work conditions, they wanted something better and were speaking up and taking action. Women believed they deserved more money and were pushing factory owners to give raise wages. Women were becoming more involved in economic activity and were joining together to make a difference in women’s pay and work conditions.
1848: Married Woman's Property Act
This act was passed and became a law April 7th, 1848, in New York. It stated that women could keep any property and possessions that they owned prior to marriage. She could also acquire property while she was married even if it was given to her by someone other than her husband. Women were no longer held liable to the debts of their husbands and their profits earned could not be at the disposal of their husbands. These laws granted women more freedom in regards to money. Women were now more independent and were not viewed as their husbands “servants”.
1850's: Teaching began to shift to a woman's profession
The Industrial Revolution increased the number of available jobs in America. The teaching profession used to be comprised only of males but as they left to find newer, more promising jobs they left open slots for the women to step up and fill. Catharine Beecher was a major influence on the feminization of teaching; she pushed women to enter the teaching field. Teaching was considered a “low” profession, meaning that one didn’t have to achieve much to become a teacher, therefore it was socially acceptable for women to be teachers. Men started to believe that because women raised children they would naturally be good teachers. They also believed that better educated women would make better wives. The Cult of Domesticity also led to the increase of women teachers because it was an idea that women should cultivate piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity while maintaining a role of a wife and mother. This idea backed up women in the teaching profession being that as a teacher they are examples of purity and nurturance. Teaching opened up more positions for women giving them more choices to what profession they wish to work in. Women no longer had to choose the dark and rough mills and factories, they had other options.
1850's: Women authors began to be recognized as accomplished writers
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was a novel that forever changed people’s view on slavery. Over three-hundred thousand copies sold in the United States within a year while over one and half million sold in Great Britain within a year. This novel changed Great Britain’s take on the United States and caused them to cease supporting the South. In this book Stowe demands equality and freedom which pushes on the abolition movement and contributes to the outbreak of the Civil War. This book was immensely popular and contributed to several changes within America. Stowe proved that women could have a successful career in writing and that writing could make a difference in the world. Her success, along with others such as Margaret Pullet, led to the increase of women writers thus adding another available lifestyle and occupation for women to choose.
1790: Second Great Awakening
A major part of the Second Great Awakening was the feminization of religion. Women began attending church more often and many of the new church members were women. There were several factors that might have led to women being more religiously involved than men during this time, two of those include: women were more apprehensive about the expanding market economy and many evangelicals preached about female spiritual worth. After listening to the evangelicals preach about female importance women turned to saving the rest of society. Many charitable organizations and crusades were established by women. Women began to feel as though they were of importance and could actually take action to make changes in society. As they began to see their success in abolition movements and prison reforms they began to form organizations for their own rights. The Second Great Awakening allowed women to see that they can stand up for themselves and join together to change society.
1820-1860: Cult of Domesticity
The Cult of Domesticity was an idea that women were designed exclusively for the roles of wives and mothers and were expected to be an example of piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. This idea also confined women to their homes. This limited women’s involvement in society by decreasing their occupation options and by stating that they are incapable of being effective in politics. This idea also states that a women’s job was to housekeep, raise children, and create a good atmosphere for her family household. These restrictions on women pushed them to start making decisions on their own and to speak out for their rights. Often times when women were protesting they were able to connect things back to the “home” therefore still in the guidelines of the Cult of Domesticity.
1825: Domestic Feminism
Although the Cult of Domesticity restricted women, it allowed them to start making decisions on their own in regards to their family life, this is called Domestic Feminism. Women took to a new assertive role within the household and became more independent. They no longer relied on their husbands to tell them what to do they made decisions on their own. Women chose to start having fewer children and began to center the family more around the children. Children were better educated and families were closer knit. This idea gave women more independence from men and also allowed them to change the usual ways of life. This showed a rapid increase in women’s roles in society.
1830-1870: Abolitionist Movement
The Second Great Awakening encouraged women to take action against the wrong doings of society. Women began to be involved with the Abolitionist movement. They wrote papers, circulated pamphlets, and signed and sent petitions to congress. Women also educated blacks and some even formed their own organizations against slavery. The Grimke sisters played a major role in this movement being that they spoke to many mixed groups about slavery. During this movement the women learned how to organize, publicize, and articulate a political protest, thus leading to an increase in their abilities to demand change and make progress. The inspirational leaders of the Abolitionist Movement became interested in Women’s rights and began protesting for more rights.
1837: Sarah Grimke wrote "the Letters on the Conditions of Women and the Equality of the Sexes."
Sarah wrote these letters in response to Catharine Beecher’s defense of the submissive role of women. Catharine said that God had made women inferior to men; Sarah argued that God had created the sexes equal and that men had created women’s inferiority by denying them the same rights. She also made it a point that women deserved the same rights as men and could effectively be a part of politics. This evoked the idea of equal rights into the minds of many women but her argument won over only a small number of people. Even though not everyone agreed with her, her letters still got more women thinking about equal rights and more freedom in society.
The Lily
written by Amelia Bloomer was issued
The Lily
was a newspaper about women’s rights and temperance. It was the first newspaper for women. Bloomer felt that lectures and speeches were not aiding the women in their quest for equal rights so she began writing. The Lily always kept its focus on temperance but included many other subjects as well. Some of the other subjects included: “horror stories” such as the effects of alcohol, child-bearing, and education. These “other subjects” soon began to shift and the editor, Elizabeth Stanton (a.k.a Sunflower), began to write about women’s rights, laws that were unfair to women, and the demand for change. Bloomer began to write about women’s rights herself, along with the ideas of dress reform. The Lily was a way to spread ideas of temperance and reform to women throughout the nation, ideas were shared and a change in society was sparked. Over six thousand copies spread over the nation and as it spread the idea of reform spread with it. Women became more interested in fashion and the idea of equal rights.
1850: First National Woman's Rights Convention
The First National Women’s rights convention was held October 24th, 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts. There were over one thousand delegates from eleven states. Women speakers demanded the right to vote, to own property, and to be allowed to receive higher education. They also spoke of wanting the right to work in more professions such as ministry and medicine. Newspaper reporters helped spread the news of this convention across the nation and helped it earn support. This convention was a huge step towards advancement in women’s rights. This convention showed that women were beginning to come together and show the nation that they deserved more rights.
1790's: "Republican Motherhood"
“Republican Motherhood” was an idea that women had the role of being the “special keepers” of the nation’s conscience. Education for women was expanded for the soul purpose of better educating their children. This idea gave women a political function, that of raising their children to become well cultured citizens for the future Republic. Even though this idea expanded educational opportunities for women and gave them a role in politics it still kept them restricted to their homes.
1797: Jersey Constitution passed an “act to regulate the Election of Members of the Legislative-Council and the General Assembly, Sheriffs and Coroners, in this State,”
This act specifically included women as rightful voters across the entire state of New Jersey. Earlier in 1790 a voting law was passed that referred to the state voters as “he or she” which also established women as rightful voters. Then in 1807 in response the Jersey Constitution an act was passed limiting the suffrage rights to free males only, ceasing the ability for women to vote. The Jersey constitution had given women suffrage rights for a short period of time but then those rights were taken away and women continued to protest to earn the rights back.
1820's-1890's: There was a colassal wave of immigrants coming to the U.S.
As thousands of immigrants poured into America from several different countries around the world the population of men increased tremendously thus further limiting women’s political rights and involvement.
1848: Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention
The Seneca Falls Convention was the first woman’s rights convention in the United States. Over three hundred men and women came to the convention to protest the mistreatment of women in the political, economic, social, and religious aspects of life. Women were granted all rights demanded by the Declaration of Sentiments except the right to vote. This convention was a big step toward equality between the sexes and led to a slight increase in political rights for women. This convention sparked the women’s rights movement.
1848: Declaration of Sentiments
The Declaration of Sentiments was written by Elizabeth Stanton and was proposed at the Seneca Falls Convention. The Declaration of Sentiments was based on the Declaration of Independence and declared that all men and women are created equal. It demanded that women should have all of the same rights men were granted, including the right to vote. This Declaration proved that women were demanding the same rights as men and were no longer afraid to voice their desires.
1850: Women's rights were overshadowed by the crisis of slavery
Slavery was the main concern throughout America in the years leading up to 1850. All other matters, such as women’s rights, were pushed aside and were considered unimportant. Congress spent a year debating the Compromise of 1850 and didn’t pay much attention to anything that wasn’t in regards to slavery. Women were not able to accomplish much in regards to gaining political rights during these years.
1856: Voting rights were granted to all white men
Property ownership was removed as a requirement to vote, thus opening up voting rights to all white men. Women’s voice in politics was dramatically reduced being that all white men could now vote. Due to the increase of voters what little political say women had was diminished. There were now more than enough voters to determine if something is right or wrong therefore whatever women would say about the subject would be ignored.

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